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Pordenone (Giovanni Antonio de Sacchis) was an Italian painter, named after the town of his birth, Pordenone in the Friuli, and active in various parts of northern Italy. Vasari, his main biographer, identifies him as Giovanni Antonio Licinio.
After working in a provincial style at the very start of his career (his master is unknown and Vasari says he was self taught; the popular story that he was a fellow-pupil with Titian under Giovanni Bellini is false), by the beginning of the second decade of the 16th century he had come close to the contemporary Venetian (specifically Giorgionesque) manner of painting.
Pordenone experienced a multiplicity of different fashions and styles in Venice, Ferrara, Loreto, Rome and Urbino where he came into contact with Giorgione, Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo, Melozzo da Forli, Raphael and Michelangelo. The taste which arose from this wide-ranging education was marked by an expressive Mannerist vitality that found itself in conflict in Venice with the courtly classicism of Titian. Such expressive passion loses some of its intensity in the later phase of Pordenone's career and under the refined Mannerist influence of Parmigiano his figure groupings became more studied and tightly organized. He always retained something of provincial uncouthness - at times vulgarity - but he was, in Vasari's words, 'very rich in invention . . . bold and resolute', and he excelled at dramatic spatial effects.
These qualities are seen at their most forceful in his fresco of the Crucifixion (1520-21) in Cremona Cathedral; the densely packed, bizarrely expressive figures are seen as if on a stage through a painted proscenium arch and they lunge violently out into the spectator's space. From 1527 Pordenone was based in Venice and for a while he was a serious rival to Titian. His major works in Venice have been destroyed, however. Pordenone died in Ferrara, where he had gone to design tapestries for Ercole II d'Este.
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